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Give Credit, Take The Blame

July 26, 2022

Guy bending over, pointing to his rear-end, saying "Go ahead, I deserve it!" Above him is dark cloud labeled "The Blame" with arm extending above it, ready to throw lightning boltI had a chance to contribute to a Databox post on the best way to deliver bad news to your boss or client.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Here’s what I had to say:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Never try to blame circumstances, bad luck, or anyone else. Accept responsibility, apologize, and lay out your plan for correcting the situation.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Provide regular status reports that include unforeseen developments, unexpected problems, delays, etc, and any other signs of trouble brewing. By keeping people informed, you at least prevent bad news from coming as a shock. The first rule of business: no surprises.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Alexander Porter notes that blaming someone else isn’t a wise long-term strategy. Because even if you do convince your boss or client that someone else was to blame, “will anyone want to work with you after that?”blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

“As long as you hold onto the mantra of ‘Give credit and take blame,’ you’ll always be trusted to have another go when the boss needs someone to step up.”blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Whatever you do, stay away from the notorious “Mistakes were made,” a favorite of American politicians ever since President Ulysses S. Grant appended a note to his final annual report to Congress in 1876, acknowledging the scandals that had plagued his two terms in office with the words, “Mistakes have been made, as all can see and I admit.”blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

You could also consider using a little self-deprecating humor to admit a mistake. William Safire tells this story about former New York City mayor (1934-45) Fiorello La Guardia:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

A disarmingly honest way of admitting error was shown (by La Guardia) who was criticized in the 1940s for closing the elite Townsend Harris High School: “I don’t make many mistakes, but when I make one it’s a beaut!”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

It takes the wind out of the sails of criticism.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

The worst news I’ve ever had to deliver was to Jay Moye when he was editor of Coca-Cola Journey, the company’s former social media hub.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Jay offered me an assignment and I had to explain that my old iMac had died and taken my copy of Photoshop with it. Fortunately, I had a plan and the story had a happy ending. I’ll always be grateful to Jay for his confidence in me.
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About Mark: I’m an illustrator specializing in humor, branding, social media, and content marketing. My images are different, like your brand needs to be.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

You can view my portfolio, and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Questions? Send me an email.blank vertical space, 40 pixels highRecommendation testimonial for Mark Armstrong Illustration from Jay Moye global editor-in-chief coca-cola company

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 27, 2022 8:44 PM

    As always, you are one smart man! Good advice all around. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the corporate world and had to take the blame, but I hope I handled it well when I did. I was always happy to give credit where due.

    Now that I’m my own boss, I take ALL the credit. Blame comes in the form of what happened today … I ate an entire plate of jalapeno poppers, and I can only blame myself for killing my stomach. I wonder if following up with a pint of ice cream will put out the fire?

    Hope all is well with you, dear Mark!


    • July 28, 2022 10:06 AM

      A plate of jalapeno poppers?? 🔥🔥🔥___🚑💨 My dear Maddie!!– yer lucky to be alive!! Well, you were always a reckless sort… 😅

      I’m sure you were the epitome of graciousness when you were a corporate woman, as you are today when you’re an author woman!

      All well here, hoping you can say the same (well, perhaps except for your stomach)– pass the ice cream!! 🍨🍨🍨😋💦

      Liked by 1 person

  2. spookster01 permalink
    July 28, 2022 2:11 AM

    Good article Mark. Only problem is… what if you’re the boss too!?


    • July 28, 2022 9:56 AM

      HAW!! You would think of that, amigo!! Alas, if you’re your own boss, ya gotta take two lightning shots– one for the dope inna trenches what made the goof, and one for the boss that wasn’t supervising him closely enough. And I speak from sad experience!! 😢😆💦


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